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Spatial data have for centuries been interpreted and visualized on analogue maps, which until recently have been the main means of assistance during perception, understanding and orientation of objects and events in space. The appearance and development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) opened new possibilities of managing spatial data and their characteristics. Through the development of new products and services, new economic and market branches are also being developed, including new generations of knowledge and experts with new ideas.
Further development of information and communication technologies, development of spatial databases, possibilities of publishing, visualizing and distribution of data through the internet brings with it new demands on spatial data. Awareness of a need for data to be standardized so that it can be more easily used by users, in order to promote faster and more efficient development of economic regions, and financial savings that can be realized in this process place new demands on spatial data. In order to speed up development in the field of spatial data, Europe has launched the INSPIRE initiative, linking national spatial data infrastructures.

Due to its core value, almost all economic and scientific branches have a need for spatial data, therefore spatial data, their management, exchange and use present one of the basis for the development of society.

For this reason, the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) is defined as a set of technologies, measures, standards, implementation rules, services, human resources and other factors enabling efficient integration, management and maintenance of the sharing of spatial data, which will be an integral part of the European Spatial Data Infrastructure defined by the INSPIRE Directive.

NSDI gives the basis for discovery, viewing and use of spatial data within government bodies, in the economic, non-commercial and public sectors, the academic community and citizens in general. The implementation of the INSPIRE Directive and NSDI is a collection of layered processes in society, which are sometimes not all easily considered; but some of them are: construction of the public sector information, new possibilities for development of services/products and markets, change of administrative-management relations and other.

The development of NSDI will have a direct or indirect influence on a number of social relationships; from economic and legal relations to educational relations, influence on social relations and other.
The Croatian NSDI has to be harmonized with the development of spatial data infrastructures on the European (INSPIRE) and global (GSDI, UN-GGIM) levels, but beside the development at national levels, it has to influence the development of spatial data infrastructures at a local level.

NSDI includes the establishment of:
  • spatial data sources
  • metadata system
  • service and networking technology
  • implementing rules, dana sharing agreements, exchange, access and use of spatial data
  • terms of use
  • coordination and monitoring mechanisms
  • processes and procedures
  • NSDI geoportal
  • human capacity
Although the primary group of users of the spatial data made available through the NSDI are spatial data experts, persons who are not professionals in the use of spatial data should not be neglected, therefore the NSDI’s vision is:
“Anyone can easily find, understand and use spatial data.”
NSDI stakeholders mission is:
“Establish infrastructure that, through standardized network services, provides spatial data to public authorities, businesses, organizations and citizens.”
The National Spatial Data Infrastructure Act (OG 56/13, 52/18, 50/20) defines the basic principles of establishing NSDI in the Republic of Croatia. The Act is harmonized with the INSPIRE Directive, which has been transposed into Croatian law.